Black communities* have been systematically socially, legally, and economically disenfranchised in America. One of the number one things you as an individual can do promote racial equity is buy from black-owned businesses; not just now, while Black Lives Matter is trending, but every day, for the rest of your life. Here are just a few amazing Black-owned fashion businesses that deserve your dollars!
*All communities of color have been and still are oppressed in the United States, and you can help by supporting their small businesses in your community. Here are some lists of minority-owned businesses to support: Buy Native! Buy Latinx! Buy Asian-American!
Gracemade is a faith-based, Black-owned brand committed to ethical, sustainable, adorable fashion. Moved by faith to care for creation and workers, Gracemade produces all of their clothes locally in smaller batches to reduce waste, using locally sourced and discarded materials from wasteful fast fashion manufacturers. To ensure fair compensation for their workers, they allow their manufacturers to set the cost of production. Gracemade donates a portion of proceeds from all purchases to Life Impact International, an organization that rescues children from slavery.
This intimates brand makes nude underwear, hosiery, and swimwear for people of skin of color. Their underwear is designed specifically for women who believe “nude” shouldn’t be a synonym for “peach.” With cup sizes B-E, you can be sure to find a size that fits your beautiful body and matches your beautiful skin.
P.S. They carry men’s underwear too!
For creative, unique handbags, you’re going to want to check out Sarep + Rose. This Pan-African brand aims to empower African artisans and promote traditional African craftsmanship countries like Liberia, Kenya, and the Cote D’Ivoire, where the influx of second-hand clothing from America and Europe has endangered previously thriving textile and leather industries.
Each stylish handbag, wallet, and shoe is designed in New York by Liberian entrepreneur Robin Sirleaf and is sourced and produced entirely by artisans in developing African nations, creating a sustainable source of income for artisan families and communities.
LukaFit is an active-wear brand designed for women of all shapes and sizes who like to move in style. Their “squatproof” leggings and sports bras are way cuter than Lululemon, and way more affordable, too! Go on, get yourself some cute leggings and sweat in style!
New York fashion designer Chelsea Bravo has recently expanded her eponymous menswear label to include a collection of clothing for men and women. With crisp, contemporary lines and simple, free shapes, these clothes are meant to replicate the experience of viewing art in a museum or gallery. The garments are artwork themselves, made to order in-house.
If you’re looking for cute, cartoon-y clothes like you could find at Hot Topic, this delightfully geeky brand has got your back. Adorned By Chi makes anime-inspired, Black-empowering clothing like kitschy shirts and collegiate skirts. If you’re a big fan of the art style, they even have a comic book series (free for online download!) about a literally magical Black girl!
Sometimes you just need something simple. With comfortable day-wear made from all-natural fibers in timeless, Japanese-influenced silhouettes, therapist and designer Aliya Wanek is making soft, neutral favorites everyone will love.
Ethically and sustainably made in the United States, often by Wanek’s own hand, this size-inclusive clothing brand is focused on exploring the relationship between identity and style through comfortable clothing for all body types.
For cute, size-inclusive swimwear, you just can’t beat Arrow + Phoenix. This body-positive brand makes swimsuits from 100% recycled materials and 100% recycled yarn, and are 75% more energy efficient than comparable brands. Their swimsuits are made with sand resistance, chlorine resistance, shape retention, UV protection, and are known for being “one of the softest fabrics on the market.”
If you’ve heard how industries like the diamond trade fuel human suffering, you’re probably looking for a jewelry alternative that uplifts people and communities instead of exploiting and destroying them. SOKO is a women-led B Corp certified ethical jewelry brand that empowers artisan communities in Kenya by providing them access to a global market.
SOKO specializes in sleek, contemporary pieces that are simple, elegant, and timeless. SOKO’s jewelry is sourced and made ethically by artisans who earn five times more than they would at an average workshop, helping these entrepreneurs and their communities achieve economic sovereignty.
If you’ve been wanting to try doing a capsule closet, there’s no time like the present! For those who are unfamiliar, a capsule closet is a curated closet with a small number of items–just your favorites, Marie Condo style–which you mix and match often. It’s a more sustainable and money-conscious alternative to having a large closet full of items you wear once or twice and then forget entirely. Make the switch from fast fashion trends to quality pieces you can wear year-round with The Tiny Closet’s gorgeous collection of simple essentials.
“ENZI is a premium footwear brand that seeks to challenge global perceptions of Africa through design, artisanal production, and a transparent process that exceed international fair trade standards.” Designed by co-founder Jawad Braye and made in Ethiopia using high-quality leather, these shoes are a cool and comfortable alternative to brands like Converse and Vans.
Created by Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo in New York City, this brand celebrates the beauty of West African prints through their unique and stylish accessories, handmade by artists in Nigeria. They’re best known for their fabulous headwraps, but they also sell some swanky jewelry and super cute clothes, too!
Of course, there are so, so many more Black-owned businesses out there rocking the fashion world. Be sure to look online and find small Black-owned businesses in your own community, because there’s nothing more important than supporting your neighbors!
What are your suggestions for awesome Black-owned fashion to shop next? Share with the community in the comments below!
Featured Image: Jazzi McGilbert, the founder of Reparations Club in Los Angeles, and Trae Harris, the co-director of the Reparations Club marketplace, photographed by Rozette Rago for The New York Times.
A. A. Ford is a writer from St. Louis, Missouri. She is currently a student majoring in English and Theology at the University of Notre Dame. In addition to her articles for Society 19, Ford is known for her poetry and fiction, which can be found at https://aafordstories.wordpress.com/. In her free time, she loves directing stage theater, spending time with her friends and family, and trying her best to glorify God by her life.